Tag:Atlanta Falcons
Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Hot Routes 4.29.11 Not all knee-jerk draft stuff

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit


Cowboys first-round pick Tyron Smith believes he has the potential to be a Pro Bowler and a Hall of Famer. (He might be right about the Hall of Fame potential. But Pro Bowl potential? Who does he think he is?)


Did you happen to catch Nick Saban’s reaction to the announcement of Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter being drafted in the first round by Seattle? It was one of disbelief, if not controlled shock.


The Falcons are set to report to work on Monday.

The 2015 Super Bowl will be held in either Glendale, AZ or Tampa, FL.


The Panthers drafted Cam Newton first overall. Wait….did you already know that? Be honest.


Gabe Carimi got a text from Jay Cutler last night. (Trying to think of a quick bridge to a Brett Favre joke…..thinking….thinking…….thinking………darn it. Anyone have anything?)


The Browns’ first-round selection wasn’t the only public reading Peyton Hillis did Thursday. The Madden cover boy also took care of the Top 10 List on Letterman. (Topic was top10 perks to being on the cover of Madden ’12. Number eight:, Hillis said, “It gets my name out there. Even I have never heard of me.”)


Could the Dolphins be looking at Colin Kaepernick in Round 2? (If so, would their tendency of picking quarterbacks in the second round be considered an addiction?)


Brandon Marshall is visiting the Dolphins facility, which is good news considering where he was a week ago.


A pitch for an entire San Diego sports complex could be part of the Chargers’ efforts to get a new stadium.


Just because the Raiders had no picks Thursday doesn’t mean their war room wasn’t busy.


Roger Goodell doesn’t blame the fans for booing him.

Justin Tuck on Rex Ryan: “The last time I checked, I have a Super Bowl ring and he doesn't, so if he's proud of coming up short, I guess he should be proud of that." (Ryan actually earned a ring as the D-line coach for the 2000 Ravens.)

 
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Posted on: April 28, 2011 11:24 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:10 am
 

Falcons better hope Julio Jones is a home run

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- Last season, I predicted the Atlanta Falcons would win the Super Bowl.

Obviously I was wrong, but it wasn't that far off -- they were arguably the best regular season team in the NFL. Just not the most explosive.

The latter problem showed up when Green Bay bolted out to a big lead in the NFC Championship Game and Atlanta couldn't even come close to mustering a comeback because they lacked the necessary explosiveness to do any damage in the second half.

By adding Julio Jones, they changed that, dramatically, and even in Mike Mularky's sometimes slow offense, the Falcons could put up big numbers if Jones does what they expect.

He better, though, because Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith just paid a pretty penny for him: four -- count them, FOUR -- draft picks in the first four rounds of the 2011 and 2012 NFL Drafts.

Atlanta gave up their first-round pick for 2011 (27th overall), their second-round pick for 2011, their fourth-round pick for 2011, their first-round pick for 2012 and their fourth-round pick in 2012. Yes, that is a TON of picks for one player.

And, yes, you may slow-clap for Tom Heckert now, because he just picked up a ridiculous haul of picks for an organization -- the Browns -- that needs in any number of positions.
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Now, look, it may not matter, it could work out for both sides, and the Browns may end up with the last pick of the first round next year. But that's cool -- they'll appreciate having a pair of first-rounders and the Falcons will appreciate winning a Super Bowl. 

Of course, that's probably a stretch. But the Falcons do have to win the NFC South in 2011 if they want to justify this move. 

The Browns, on the other hand, can sit back and stockpile assets with which to help Colt McCoy and the organization later down the line, sitting on a pile of early picks over the next two years and no real guarantee of success in 2011. 

And maybe it's too early to try and criticize Dimitroff and Smith. After all, there's really nothing to justify doing so, as they've killed it thus far. But if something goes awry in 2011, there'll be some questions about this deal asked, particularly when Jones can only touch the ball but so many times a game.

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Posted on: April 27, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:56 am
 

Three spicy draft rumors for you

Posted by Andy Benoit

A person can go crazy trying to keep up with all the various draft rumors with the first round now less than 36 hours away. That said, here are three very credible NFL reporters who have gotten involved in the hoopla. We’ll pass along their tidbits:

*John McClain of the Houston Chronicle believes the Texans want to trade up to snag either Von Miller or Patrick Peterson.

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*Peter King of Sports Illustrated reports that the Falcons are trying to trade up to get either A.J. Green or Julio Jones. (King says it’s unlikely they’ll succeed.)

Jason La Canfora of NFL Network says the Steelers “will exhaust all possible scenarios to trade up” and get Mike Pouncey (which would obviously extend their current league-high for Pouncey’s on the roster from one to two).

Make what you want of this information. Or, just do the sane thing and wait a few hours for the first round of the draft to actually play out.

UPDATE 12:41 p.m. EST: Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calls the idea of Mike Pouncey being a Steeler "a fantasy".

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Posted on: April 27, 2011 9:11 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:57 am
 

Ranking the NFL's 32 final draft decision makers

Posted by Andy Benoit

There are many ways a person could rank the top draft decision makers for each NFL team. Among those criteria: team history of success; number of first-rounders who have panned out; the number of late-round gems discovered; consistency of the players developed within the organization.

But without a scientific formula, sometimes the best rankings can derive from a standard eyeball/smell/gut test. Thus, here is a ranking of all 32 “final draft decision makers” in the NFL.

Lists like these tend to attract criticism and rebuttals. Have at it -- this is meant to be a discussion starter.

1. Bill Polian, ColtsB. Polian (US Presswire0
Sticks unwaverlingly to his formula: invest in a small handful of elite skill position players on offense and playmakers on defense, and then surround them with low cost youngsters who fit your scheme. In the 2000s he led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl win and annual division titles. In the '90s he ushered in the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history (Carolina Panthers) and oversaw the four-time AFC Champion Buffalo Bills.

2. Kevin Colbert, Steelers
Doesn't get much attention because A) he rarely does interviews; B) the Steelers are often drafting late in the first round and C) he's almost always looking two or three years ahead when drafting players, which minimizes the hype of Pittsburgh's rookie class. These methods have brought in guys like LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, Lawrence Timmons, Mike Wallace and Maurkice Pouncey to name five.

3. Ted Thompson, Packers
It took major intestinal fortitude to pull the trigger on Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still on the roster and many believed the 2005 Packers were in position to "win now." Virtually the entire Packers Super Bowl roster this past year was comprised of players who were drafted by the organization and in their prime. That's perfect planning paying off.

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4. Bill Belichick, Patriots
The best trader of picks the NFL has seen since Jimmy Johnson. Like an alchemist, he regularly turns one late first-round selection into two or three solid contributors who fit the Patriots' ever-changing system.

5. Mickey Loomis, Saints
Is batting about .750 with his high-round draft picks, and has managed to snag several small-school gems in middle to late rounds (See: Jahri Evans, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, who was primarily a basketball player at Miami).

6. Ozzie Newsome, Ravens
Simply has a knack for connecting on stars. His latest include Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice and (maybe) Michael Oher and Joe Flacco. Because of good mid-round drafting, depth is generally a plus for this club. The only true black eye on Newsome’s resume is the Kyle Boller pick, for which Brian Billick shares equal blame.

7. A.J. Smith, Chargers
Supposedly not the most likeable guy in the room, but that's in part because he has a gift for ruthlessly getting the most out of his resources. Part of that is replacing players a year too soon rather than a year too late.

8. Andy Reid, Eagles
Aside from Green Bay, Philadelphia is the only NFC team that has consistently drafted for the future first and the present second. Because of that, the Eagles are able to stay afloat when they do miss on a high-round pick.

9. Mike Holmgren, Browns
Jury is still out in Cleveland, obviously. But a person's track record has to count for something, right? And Holmgren's is pretty good.

10. Mike Tannenbaum, Jets
Home runs (D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis -- who was a grand slam -- and possibly Mark Sanchez) outnumber strikeouts (Kellen Clemens, Vernon Gholston). Willing to be aggressive and trade up to get his guy. So far, it's worked well.

11. Jerry Reese, Giants
Has done a superb job building off the foundation that Ernie Accorsi put in place.

12. Thomas Dimitroff, FalconsT. Dimitroff (US Presswire)
Ex-New England front office executive instantly turned the rudderless post-Vick Falcons around by nailing the Matt Ryan pick. Has since retooled the offense with solid role players and upgraded the speed on defense.

13. Mark Dominik, Buccaneers
Made the bold commitment for the Bucs to get younger on both sides of the ball. Already, those young players have turned out a 10-6 record, putting the team a year or two ahead of schedule. The decision to draft Josh Freeman one day could lead to a Lombardi Trophy.

14. Marty Hurney, Panthers
For the most part, Panthers have been consistently competitive for 10 years despite the absence of a star quarterback. How? Solid offensive line (Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil were successful high draft picks), good running game (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were two more successful high picks) and a staunch defense (Jon Beason has more than lived up to first-round billing).

15. Scott Pioli, Chiefs
Was an integral part of the Patriots dynasty and is showing a knack for finding players who fit the Chiefs’ scheme.

16. Billy Devaney, Rams
Has not been at the helm long; will soar up this list if his 2011 draft class turns out to be anything like his 2010 class.

17. Mike Shanahan, Redskins
A nod to experience more than anything. Shanahan The GM has never been as good as Shanahan The Coach. But Shanahan The GM has still been around the block a time or two and knows exactly what he wants. Having Bruce Allen handle some of the technical GM duties is helpful.

18. Ken Whisenhunt/Rod Graves, Cardinals
Only one player they've taken in the first three rounds has not contributed (Cody Brown). The rest all have been part of a club that has won postseason games two of the past three seasons.

19. Jerry Angelo, Bears
Seems to have a slightly better feel for the veteran market than the rookie market, but we're nitpicking. Has done a fine job finding players who fit Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 defense. Offensively, he’s building around Jay Cutler (for whom he traded significant picks to get).

20. Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
The assumption is he occasionally has to cater to the demands of Bud Adams, which could be a challenging wrinkle to his job. Overall, has constructed a deep roster and seen a few gambles pay off (notably Chris Johnson in 2007).M. Reinfeldt (US Presswire)

21. Rick Spielman, Vikings
Too many busts early in his tenure, though some of that was beyond Minnesota's control (Kenechi Udeze's health issues, Erasmus James' injuries). While forcing a few picks into the lineup, the Vikings also have gotten their money's worth from top picks Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson (considered a risk because of injury problems at Oklahoma).

22. Jerry Jones, Cowboys
Yes, the Cowboys have a talented group. But a bulk of that talent was acquired when Bill Parcells was around.

23. Martin Mayhew, Lions
Still waiting to see what becomes of the major investments on offense (outlook appears good but still not certain).

24. Jeff Ireland, Dolphins
Brand new in his role as top decision maker. It wouldn't be fair to judge him based on what his former boss (Parcells) did.

25. Gene Smith, Jaguars
In two years has shown willingness to rebuild in bunches by using back-to-back draft picks on the same position. In that time, not a lot has changed in Jacksonville's bottom line, though there is legitimate optimism about this franchise's direction.

26. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
It's way too early to judge. His first draft class looks like it could turn out to be spectacular at the top (Russell Okung has star traits, Earl Thomas has shown flashes and many like Walter Thurmond) but very few men have successfully worn the GM hat while coaching.

27. Trent Baalke, 49ers
The Niners' draft record during his two years as VP of Player Personnel was iffy, but he wasn't the final decision-maker then. His first draft class will likely prove to have produced long-term starters with the first four picks (Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis, Taylor Mays and NaVorro Bowman). Iupati, in fact, seems destined to be a perennial Pro Bowler.T. Baalke (US Presswire)

28. Buddy Nix, Bills
Bills are full of overachievers, but part of overachieving is not being very talented. The Aaron Maybin air ball in 2009 puts a damper on what was otherwise a solid draft class. But Nix, a national scout at the time, wasn't fully responsible for that draft class. His 2010 draft class is off to a slow start but its still in the judgment phase.

29. Rick Smith, Texans
Houston is overhauling its defensive scheme after spending five years investing first-round picks on players who were supposed to fit that scheme.

30. Mike Brown, Bengals
He would be a great fantasy drafter because he always takes the best player. Problem is, in the real draft, team chemistry needs to factor into your decisions. Those "best players" Brown takes are often available because of character red flags.

31. John Elway, Broncos
No track record to evaluate.

32. Al Davis, Raiders
One apparently solid draft (2010) does not erase years of atrocious ones.

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Posted on: April 25, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

Posted by Will Brinson

No less than 48 hours ago, I told a relative at Easter that I had "fully talked myself into the Panthers taking Cam Newton." That's a by-product of several things, including: a) the franchise's need for a "face" that people care about, b) the unparalleled upside that Newton represents, c) the lack of any decent quarterback on the roster and d) the need to sell tickets and get fans re-invested.

When I woke up on Monday though, I felt entirely differently, and now I'm pretty sure that the Panthers absolutely need to pass on Newton, acquire as many decent assets as they can, and focus on getting Andrew Luck in 2011. (Quite conveniently, Clark Judge is hearing they'll do just that.)

That's not saying they should "tank" -- and, disclaimer time: I'm actually a Panthers fan, so that would be kind of miserable for me. They shouldn't. No one should tank in the NFL because, unlike the NBA or MLB, things can change quickly, and teams can become successful overnight.

But have you seen Carolina's schedule? It's nuts. There are -- at most -- five winnable games on the slate in 2011, and it wouldn't matter who they had quarterbacking, as long as that person is either a rookie or a second-year Jimmy Clausen, because it's going to be a struggle.
Panthers' Problems

Obviously the Panthers get the Falcons, the Saints and the Buccaneers twice in 2011, and only an insane optimist could expect more than two wins against those three times total. Two, which is dangerously hopeful, would include a win against the Bucs at home and either a random upset of Atlanta or New Orleans, or a late-season win where one of those teams doesn't trot out their full "A-team" because their seeding decision has been settled.

Look at the rest of the schedule, and the even the most bullish fan would find a hard time arguing that, with Cam Newton and/or Jimmy Clausen at the helm, the Panthers will win five games. I mean, where are the wins? Against the Cardinals, in Arizona, during the opening week of the season? Maybe.

Week 2 against the Packers can already be ruled out, as can Week 12 against the Colts in Indy and the Week 15 matchup against the Texans in Houston; all of those teams have too much offense for the Panthers to compete. So let's say they lose those three games and go 1-5 in the division.

That leaves a home matchup against Jacksonville in Week 3, a trip to Chicago in Week 4, a home matchup against the Redskins in Week 7 followed by the Vikings coming to town in Week 8, a Week 10, post-bye matchup against the Titans in Charlotte and a trip to Detroit in Week 11. Winning three of those games, based on the success that the 2010 team had, would be considered a tremendous success. That's a 4-12 record for the season, a miserable year, and a learning experience with regard to whether Jimmy Clausen can be the future of the franchise (my answer is no, but Marty Hurney apparently still wants to find out).
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It's also probably good enough to land them the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, which will net them Andrew Luck of Stanford, unless he decides he really loves graduate school.

And yes, I understand that this is a game of chicken that no NFL front office can reasonably play; it predicates itself on thinking that your team will be awful, and that's not a mindset you see in the NFL. But the schedule is what the schedule is, and then there's this: everyone in this draft is pulling trigger on a quarterback.

Most folks believe that there's a chance six -- SIX! -- quarterbacks could be gone as early as the first round. If six of the 10 (or so) teams that are truly desperate for quarterback help take a first-rounder, there's a pretty good chance that they won't even be looking for Luck come next year, significantly improving the Panthers chance that they would wind up with the most coveted option in the 2011 draft, even if they didn't finish with the worst record. (For instance, if the Bills draft Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton third overall and finish 2-14, are they taking Luck? They can't.

And that should be the scariest fact for Hurney and new coach Ron Rivera when they start looking at their options for the coming season: even if they do take Newton, they could finish with the worst record in the NFL (in fact, one could argue drafting Newton improves their chances ...) and be faced with a decision on having to draft their third straight franchise quarterback. That's something that isn't even considered an option. Even if Luck was there, Carolina would have to think defense, which would be a shame.

Look, landing Luck vis-a-vis the No. 1 overall pick next year is far from a guarantee. But the odds of it happening for Carolina are at least as good, if not better, than hitting a home run with Cam Newton.
Posted on: April 23, 2011 7:30 pm
 

A few more things about the schedule...

Posted by Andy Benoit

This is what happens when there’s a lockout: schedules provide the only solid NFL news and thus, they get over-covered. But this year’s schedules seem to have a few more interesting notes than usual. Here are some:

(Disclaimer: any criticisms here come with the caveat that I fully understand the NFL has a gargantuan task when it comes to scheduling 256 games, and that year in and year out, they do an A+ job of giving fans quality matchups at convenient times. Many unknown factors impact scheduling, making an outsider’s idea of perfection impossible.)
 
Week 1 burnt games
Baltimore (US Presswire)
In Week 1 we have a Sunday night opener Cowboys @ Jets. This game features perhaps the two biggest draws in the NFL and the Ryan Brothers storyline.

The question is, why burn this television gem in Week 1? It’s the first full Sunday of the season – fans are excited enough for football at that point that they’ll watch just about any game. So go with a solid divisional matchup (like Cowboys-Redskins last year) and save the unique TV gem for later.

But don’t make it too solid of a divisional matchup. After all, you’d hate to see one of the greatest rivalries in sports be played in the season opener. Unfortunately, that’s what the league chose by putting one of the two Ravens-Steelers matchups in Week 1. And in the unglamorous 1:00 window, no less.

What’s more, Ravens-Steelers will coincide with Bears-Falcons, a showdown between the NFC’s top two playoff seeds from a year ago.
 
Packers will feel like your family

No holidays in Green Bay this year. The Packers will be the first team in league history to have games on Thanksgiving, Christmas day and New Year’s Day. The Packers also host the Thursday night season opener which, anymore, feels like a national holiday.
 
Eagles more at home than ever

Have you seen Philly’s mid-season schedule? They have a Week 7 bye and then four of their next five games at home. What’s more, the lone road game is at the Giants in primetime. New York (or Rutherford, NJ) is a 2-3 hour drive from Philadelphia, depending on traffic. If they so desire, the Eagles can stay at home the night before the game and drive to the Meadowlands in the early afternoon the next day. That would give the team an unheard of six straight weeks of sleeping in their own beds.
 
Primetime for most, but not all

Only five teams are devoid of any primetime games in 2011: the Panthers, Bills, Cardinals, Bengals and, for the first time in five years, the Titans.

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Posted on: April 23, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2011 3:48 pm
 

Roddy White's jerseys being held hostage

Posted by Andy Benoit

Roddy White is caught up in a situation that involves arrests warrants, ransoms and…hmm, guess we have to go with paperwork (sorry, couldn’t think of a third overly-sensational thing).

What’s the deal? White gave an Atlanta man two of his Falcon jerseys plus his Pro Bowl jersey from this past season. The man was supposed to frame each jersey at the cost of $400. Instead, the man is holding the items and demanding that White pay $10,000 for their return (no word on whether the demand specifies that the $10,000 be in cash).

If you think the man’s plan sounds like one of the dumbest, most ill-thought out you’ve ever heard, there’s a twist: when contacted by Atlanta’s Channel 2 Action News, the man claimed that he has performed several odd jobs for White in the past, and that White owes him $10,000.

A judge will hold a hearing next week to decide whether an arrest warrant will be issued for the jersey holder.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: April 20, 2011 9:17 am
Edited on: April 20, 2011 11:49 am
 

Falcons safety William Moore arrested

Posted by Andy Benoit
W. Moore
UPDATE 11:50 a.m. EST: Thanks to some investigative reporting from Pro Football Talk, it sounds like Moore’s arrest was the result of a miscommunication. Moore was pulled over for speeding and arrested for a previous unresolved speeding ticket. That prompted the “failure to appear” charge and suspended license.

Moore reportedly resolved a speeding ticket several months ago, not realizing at the time that there was a second unresolved ticket to deal with.

----------

William Moore spent seven hours in jail on Tuesday. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Falcons safety was arrested in Gwinnett County (GA) and charged with speeding, driving with a suspended license and failure to appear.

Moore, 25, was a second-round pick out of Missouri in 2009. He has flashed star potential for his big hit ability and ferocity.

No word on whether this will lead to a reprimanding from the NFL after the lockout, though Moore has not violated the personal conduct policy before.

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Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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